Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Studio Stroll

This past weekend, the River District Artists (to which I belong) had our semi-annual Studio Stroll. We have over 90 artists in the group, and twice a year we open our studios to the public. It's always a popular event - we get people from all over the country who come in to see what we're doing. This weekend, I spoke with people from as far away as Boston, Ohio, and Oregon. I always try to have different stuff up on the walls every time, and this year I featured my courtroom drawings. Talking with visitors, both local and out-of-towners, is always fun.

The big issue this year, though, was that the number of visitors was way down. Artists in one studio in my building were counting, and it seems that our foot traffic was less than half that of last June. Sales were down even more. Now, I usually don't sell much during these Strolls, since my work is edgy, but there are several artists who normally sell a bunch, and this year they didn't. There are several possible reasons: weather (it rained most of Saturday), the Robert Plant/Allison Krauss concert Saturday night, and the Purple Ball for the Asheville Area Arts Council on Saturday night, all of which might have siphoned off visitors. Actually, I think the concert and the ball should've added visitors. I think the big culprit is the economy. High gas prices, skyrocketing food prices, declining stock market, the housing slump, and a tight job market are affecting what people do. And since art is a luxury item, it's one of the first things to get axed from people's budgets, and the last to come back. I saw it first-hand in the aftermath of 9/11, and it's much worse this year. Ouch!

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